Obama Issues Another Signing Statement, Will Ignore Provisions Of War Spending Bill


By Jason Leopold, NEWS JUNKIE POST

President Barack Obama quietly issued another signing statement on Friday, stating that he has the authority under the Constitution to disregard certain sections of the $106 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghainstan passed by Congress last week.

The provisions at issue in the bill sets policies and directs administration officials to promote them when negotiating with international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It would also require the White House to apply pressure to the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and calls on the Treasury Department to file reports with Congress on activities conducted by the World Bank and the IMF.

But Obama, who sharply criticized George W. Bush for issuing an unprecedented number of signing statements and ignoring the will of Congress, wrote that the provisions in the appropriations bill dealing with international financial institutions limited his “ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations” and therefore could ignore it.

“[P]rovisions of this bill within sections 1110 to 1112 of title XI, and sections 1403 and 1404 of title XIV, would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the congress prior to such negotiations or discussions,” Obama’s signing statement said.

On the campaign trail, Obama promised, if elected, to limit his use of signing statements. He has issued five other signing statements since taking office.

“What George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency is he’s been saying ‘well I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying I don’t agree with this part or I don’t agree with that part,” Obama said last year during a campaign stop. “I’m gonna’ choose to interpret it this way or that way.’ That’s not part of his power. But this is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he’s going along. I disagree with that. I taught the constitution for 10 years. I believe in the constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.

“We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.”

In December 2007, the Boston Globe quoted Obama as saying it’s a “clear abuse of power to use such [Presidential signing] statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.”

“I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.”

But that’s exactly what Obama did Friday. And since he was sworn in he has used it frequently and has used reasoning cited by the Bush administration to explain why he would ignore Congress.

After he was sworn in in January, Obama called on all executive branch agencies to ignore Bush’s signing statements.


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